NEA Membership Continues to Plummet
Although 9,000 attended this year’s NEA convention, the union is still losing members at an unprecedented rate. This has forced the NEA to tighten its budget and decrease its staff, a move that led to complaints from delegates. “There’s no question that we have to change,” said NEA secretary-treasurer Becky Pringle, who entitled this year’s budget, “Leading in Our New Reality.”
As I’ve said to many of you, it is a trifecta that we could not have imagined. We’re living with a recession that just won’t end, political attacks that have turned brutal, and societal changes that are impacting us — from stupid education ‘reform’ to an explosion of technology — all coming together to impact us in ways that we had never anticipated.
The NEA reports that it has lost about 150,000 members during the last two years, and it expects to lose more than 287,000 members over the next two years. These losses will result in revenue losses of $65 million from 2010 to 2014 — a number that veteran education journalist Mike Antonucci said equaled about one-sixth of the union’s original budget. The union expects to lose $27 million in the 2012-2013 year alone.
The NEA, which boasts about 439 staffers, has so far only had to fire about ten people in light of budget cuts. These ten must have complained, however, because a New Business Item examined at the assembly promised that “all employees working for and supervised by NEA Headquarters personally be first notified in person of the elimination or possible elimination of their position.” Former employees had been informed of their fate by telephone, NEA officials noted, and “Some of said employees worked for NEA for over 20 years. Our employees deserve more.”